Friday, November 14, 2008

Gang of Three Continue to Vex

The so-called gang of three continues to cause a stir. In this morning's NY Post, the paper highlights the Latino empowerment issue being pushed by the three rebels: "Two rogue Democrats say Gov. Paterson encouraged them to push for a Hispanic as Senate leader, even as he was publicly backing Sen. Malcolm Smith - an African-American - for the job. Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Senator-elect Pedro Espada Jr. told The Post that Paterson told them that having a Hispanic leader in the Senate would boost his re-election bid."

The governor's office has denied this, but since it injected itself directly into the squabble yesterday, calling the three senators "selfish," it has put Paterson squarely in the middle of the muddle. As Senator Diaz told the Post: "We were just following Gov. Paterson's lead," said Diaz (D-Bronx). "Gov. Paterson indicated to us in a certain way that it would have been a benefit to him that a Hispanic be the leader, because that would help him in 2010."

In addition to the Latino angle, the issue of gay rights is also still front and center-with the Times Union chiding the rebel senators(via Liz): "The idea that the Legislature will someday address same sex marriage as the matter of civil liberties that it is seems more remote than ever.
Here are two senators and one senator-elect, all New York City Democrats, calling for a public referendum on the issue of gay marriage, instead. Sen. Ruben Diaz of the Bronx, Sen. Carl Kruger of Brooklyn and Senator-elect Pedro Espada of the Bronx see gay marriage — and whether New York is ever to allow it, as Massachusetts and Connecticut do — see the battle for control of the Senate as a convenient opening to press their issue."

This doesn't sit well with the paper, apparently allowing the public a say is an anthema to the elite: "Mr. Diaz, for one, says he'll only back a majority leader who promises not to bring a same-sex marriage bill to the floor for a vote. The referendum he and the other would-be renegades are advocating won't be a constructive plebiscite at all. A means to an end is more like it. Same-sex marriage wouldn't be considered in the interest of the 19 million or so New Yorkers, or even the much, much smaller minority who might want to engage in it. Three politicians have taken the issue hostage. They have every right, of course, to oppose gay marriage. Let them vote against it then after thoughtful debate, when it comes before the Senate. This isn't the way to decide what party will hold the Senate majority, however."

We like the word "plebescite." It has a nice fascist ring to hit; conflating giving the folks a voice with authoritarian bullying. Whatever! It still all means that the leadership question is no ready to be resolved, and the role of the governor needs to become more constructive than it has been so far.